Men's Sports

Sports Docs Weekly Blitz: Learning about Orthobiologics

Dear Cyclone Fanatics,

Today we are going to learn about an up and coming area of orthopedics called Orthobiologics, which is the use of the body’s own biologic capabilities to help facilitate healing and fend off the aging process.

This includes a wide range of technologies such as cell therapy, including stem cells and bone marrow aspirate and platelet rich plasma (PRP), bone grafting materials to stimulate fracture healing, biocartilage to heal joint surface injuries, and resorbable scaffolds for tissue growth in tendon and ligament repairs.

Today, I want to focus on PRP – Platelet Rich Plasma. PRP is obtained when a small amount of the patient’s own blood is spun down in a centrifuge, with the red blood cells (which carry oxygen) and the white blood cells (which fight infection) being discarded. This leaves behind the platelets and the blood plasma, with the presence of concentrated growth factors and cytokines.

These include many growth factors (such as platelet-derived GF, transforming GF beta, fibroblast GF, insulin-like GF 1 & 2, vascular endothelial GF, epidermal GF, keratinocyte GF, connective tissue GF) and interleukin 8.

How exactly all of these work is still being explored, the KEY thing to know is that this is the body’s own healing properties put into use to “jumpstart” the healing process.

There are three main clinical applications of PRP in the orthopedic sports medicine world. This includes:

Treatment of acute muscle/tendon injuries (pulled quadriceps muscle),
Chronic tendinopathies (inflamed tendons, such as achilles tendon, patellar tendon, or tennis elbow), and Osteoarthritis (especially in the knee).

My partners (Dr. Peter Buck and Dr. Bryan Warme) and I have used PRP in all of these settings, working on a variety of athletes (including ISU athletes) and have seen good results in helping to facilitate recovery and speed up return to the desired activity level, including sports participation.

There is a growing body of literature that details the efficacy of PRP as a treatment method, although certainly there is much more knowledge that needs to be gained with regard to exactly how PRP should be utilized. Along with the potential upside of using PRP is the lack of risks: there are no known adverse effects, as this is using the patient’s own blood.

If you think you might be a candidate for PRP treatment, or simply want to learn more about this new and exciting treatment option, feel free to contact us at the McFarland Clinic Orthopedic Sports Medicine Department at 515-239-4475, and ask for the surgeons that “take care of the Cyclones”.

Until you need us, stay healthy and GO CYCLONES!


Dr. Thomas Greenwald